LLPH is urging all members to vote YES on Brat amendment. This could possibly be included as a MAJOR vote! If it fails, we would recommend a NO vote on the bill.
From The Hill:
“After Medicare Part D, we ended up with ObamaCare, which is a huge increase in spending, and now we’re wanting to have this,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), a physician who works on health issues in the conservative House Freedom Caucus. “Look what’s happening in Greece and Puerto Rico.”
On the Republican side, proponents of the bill have been working to tamp down support for an amendment from Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) that would change the funding in the bill from mandatory to discretionary. Democrats warn that if the amendment passes Friday, support from their side will crumble because the NIH funding would be far less certain.
Upton has also pushed back on conservative objections.
When the conservative group Heritage Action urged members to oppose the bill on Tuesday, Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee replied that the move was “surprisingly short-sighted.”
Asked about Heritage Action on Wednesday, Upton told The Hill, “Remember, they opposed the [sustainable growth rate] doc fix too.” That Medicare reform bill went on to pass the House overwhelmingly in March, despite Heritage Action’s opposition.
Behind the scenes, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) has also objected to the funds being mandatory.
“We have a basic disagreement, that’s just the way it’s going to stay,” Upton said of Price.
Price supports Brat’s amendment but did not lend his name to it, not wanting to escalate the disagreement with Upton.
One aide to a conservative member said Brat’s amendment would fail, giving cover to some conservatives who end up supporting the final bill.
“It will have significant support but it won’t have a majority of the House,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), a conservative who supports the bill.
Brat spoke out against the bill in the Republican conference meeting on Wednesday, saying if the NIH is really such a priority, then it shouldn’t be hard for the Appropriations Committee to increase its funding through the normal process.
“It’s always easy up here to vote yes, yes, yes, yes, you know, ‘learn to govern’ and all these kind of phrases,” he said. “The piece that’s missing is the damage we’re doing to the kids.”
Even Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a GOP leadership ally, raised concerns about the mandatory spending at a Rules Committee hearing Wednesday.
He said that while the funds only last for five years, the pressure on Congress would be too great not to renew them in the future.
“I don’t really believe we’ll stop doing this in five years,” he said at a Rules Committee hearing. “I have a real hard time believing that.”
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has sought to counter conservative concerns.
Boehner’s office touted the bill in a statement this week, noting that it fully pays for the spending it contains and is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to reduce the deficit by more than $500 million.
“The bill not only paves the way for a new era of medical innovation, it does so by drawing on several conservative reforms that are good for taxpayers, and good for our economy,” the Speaker’s statement said.
And like Yoder, some conservatives, including Reps. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), are in favor of the bill, arguing NIH spending is a smart investment.
Yoder wrote a letter to his colleagues this week urging support.
“As conservatives, we should be advocating for federal investment in research now in order to bend the cost curve down the road,” he wrote.